Test subjects participated in an 8 week mindfulness meditation program and for the first time massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter were documented. According to Sara Lazar, changes in brain structure may underlie some of the reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are relaxing. According to the article, participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises and this produced an increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus (an area associated with introspection, self-awareness, and compassion). “Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.” Read article
Breathing is an unusual body function in that it is both voluntary and involuntary. When we change how we breathe, we can change how breathing impacts our body. Deep breathing can counter our fight or flight response. Controlled breathing can thus help manage stress and the damage prolonged stress can have on the brain. Controlled breathing can help manage anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn can help prevent stroke and lower risk of a cerebral aneurysm, as well as spark brain growth in areas associated with attention and processing sensory input, particularly in older individuals. Lastly, controlled breathing can alter gene expression with regard to insulin secretion, energy metabolism, and immune function. Read article
Relaxing protects your heart, reduces your risk of catching a cold, boosts your memory, lowers stroke risk, may help ward off depression, help one make better decisions, help keep you slim, eases acne, will help keep you “in the mood,” and could slow breast cancer. Chronic stress lasting over a month but under six months doubled a person’s chance of getting a cold. It appears stress decreases the body’s ability to fight inflammation. Stress can also impair the centers of the brain involved in memory and learning. The article also suggested that prolonged exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can reduce levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are linked to depression. Stress is also likely to exacerbate mood problems in individual’s with a history of depression and could trigger a relapse. Stress can change how one views risks and rewards and can cloud judgment when making a decision. Stressed individuals tend to focus on the positive and not take into proper consideration the cons of his or her decision. Cortisol, the stress hormone, increases appetite, and may even specifically encourage junk food cravings. Stress can make individuals crave comfort foods while also making it harder to resist those cravings. Stress increases the amount of oil produced by the skin and can decrease libido. Relaxing may aid in slowing the progression of breast cancer and may also speed recovery. Read Article
According to the author, self care only works when you listen to your body, and do what you want without resistance. It is important to do this because it is your body’s way of telling you that you need a break. It is important to take the time to check for stress in your body. The article recommends giving yourself a 60 second break three times a day.
Article offers tips to increase brain health: Do not engage in behaviors that damage the brain: illegal drugs, smoking, stress, sleep deprivation, soft drinks, sedentary lifestyles, excessive alcohol, junk food, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, loneliness, pessimism and negative self-talk. Put yourself in mentally, physically, and socially stimulating environments. Make good dietary choices. Maintain a healthy weight. Exercise. Engage in lifelong active learning. Do things differently/change routines. Engage in learning new skills on a daily basis. It is possible to train and regain lost brain functioning. Get enough sleep and calm the mind. Engage in lifelong social interaction and meaningful connection with others. “The brain is a teleological device—it is fed by having goals to strive for and aspirations to work towards. The clearer we are about where we want to go and what we want to achieve, the more effective the brain is in accomplishing the required tasks.” Direct self-talk to support goals. Be thankful and grateful. Engage in mental practice to help with tasks. Be passionate, excited, and enthusiastic.
Learn more about new brain thought technology with the articles and research that are listed on this page.